'Wise' to keep unvaccinated Canterbury kids away from school - expert

A medical researcher says it's a good idea to keep unvaccinated children away from school as 37 cases of measles have been identified in Canterbury.

Sir David Skegg said children who haven't been vaccinated shouldn't be going to school.

"I think it would be wise if [unvaccinated children] didn't go to school in Christchurch, because it does look as if there's considerable spread occurring."

More than 30,000 doses of the MMR vaccine have been distributed in a bid to get on top of the outbreak.

However, Sir David says it's a bottom of the cliff approach.

"It is very concerning an outbreak of this scale has occurred in New Zealand, I certainly hope the Ministry of Health will learn some lessons from it"

He told Newshub Nation he wants to see the Ministry of Health armed with more expertise to prevent disease outbreaks.

"There's a director of public health there, she does her best, she's not even part of the leadership team of the ministry and we don't have a separate public health agencies as many other countries have."

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Ramon Pink said on Thursday a wider group of people are now eligible for the measles vaccine, in order to control its spread.

In addition to those aged one to 28 who have never been vaccinated, caregivers of infants up to 12 months and people aged between 29 and 50 with children will now also be eligible.

"Our vaccination campaign over the next four weeks aims to target those still at risk of being infected by measles, or having serious complications from it," said Dr Pink. "We believe we have enough stock of the MMR vaccine to support our campaign."

Auckland is also managing an outbreak of measles, NZME reported on Thursday that 900 people in the city could have been exposed to the disease.

Fifty-nine people were in quarantine because of the outbreak.